On the gas tax, why not do what most Pennsylvanians want?

Here's why: The Inquirer's Andrew Maykuth has a story that makes clear why it's so hard to govern based primarily on constituent preferences.

Gov. Rendell, who has been pressing the legislature to enact a tax on gas production this week, often cites an August survey that found that 78 percent of Pennsylvanians support a gas severance tax, while only 14 percent oppose it.

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That seems decisive.

Except that, in March, a Franklin & Marshall College poll arrived at a different conclusion. The poll, directed by G. Terry Madonna, indicated that only 35 percent of Pennsylvanians favor increasing taxes on natural-gas extraction companies. Nearly half - 49 percent - were opposed.

What to make of this?

It's all in how the question is asked.

Sometimes legislators just need make decisions based on their own judgment. This is not to be confused, however, with making decisions based on their own interest.

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